The conviction, now final, of Bishop Leonard by the Appeals Court in Liege, which sentenced him to compensate the victim of a paedophile priest, may open doors to proceedings for liability against people who covered up sex crimes. Some attorneys reckon the decision coud set a precedent on the principle of liability.
The 20th Civil Chamber of the Appeals Court in Liege sentenced Bishop Leonard to pay 10,000 euros in compensation as well as court fees for up to just over 8,000 euros to Joel Devillet, the victim of a paedophile priest, in April 2015. The plaintiff reckoned that Andre Leonard covered up the facts and and refused to be involved and to deal with the case.
The Liege judgment makes Bishop’s Leonard’s civil court sentence final, and Joel Devillet received compensation from Andre Leonard. The sentence could set a precedent and make it easier to proceed against people responsible for covering up sex crimes. Clergymen, but also educators or volunteers for example.
Several attorneys consulted on the matter concurred. “The judgment can certainly facilitate liability proceedings. But liability must be proven. Is it active or passive? Some elements will be necessary to establish liability, not just suspicion or presumption. Other similar cases could appear. The verdict will set a precedent. On the principle of liability, we now have a clear statement from the Appeals Court in Liege,” explained attorney Séverine So Ifrini.